SEPTA to hold online lottery for Papal Regional Rail passes Aug. 3rd

Should I pray to St. Christopher, the patron saint of travel, or Saint Cajetan, the patron saint of gamblers?

That’s the question devout Catholics hoping to take SEPTA Regional Rail into Philadelphia to see Pope Francis on September 26th and September 27th will be asking as they sign up for an online lottery for those special one-day, $10 passes.

The lottery will be held August 3rd and the public will be able to enter their names at anytime between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. that Monday. SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams emphasized that all valid submissions will have the same chances of winning, regardless of when they are submitted. When SEPTA originally attempted to sell these passes online last week, the website crashed due to high volume.

SEPTA is selling 350,000 passes for the two days – 175,000 per day. A link to the lottery website will be provided on SEPTA’s website,

Entrants into the lottery will need to fill out contact information, select which day or days they are entering the lottery for, enter up to three preferred regional rail stations, and pick a travel time slot for departure into the city: either 5:30 – 8:30 a.m or 8:30 a.m. – noon.

Lottery winners will be able to purchase up to 10 tickets for each day. Williams acknowledged that this opened the door to would-be scalpers, but pleaded for the public to heed the better angels of their nature for His Holiness’ visit.

“We hope, because this is a Papal Visit, that people around the region don’t try to take advantage of it,” Williams said.

Winners will receive an email August 6th notifying them that they have won, and providing a personalized link to a secured page to complete the purchase.

SEPTA hired Philly-based online ticketing company Ticketleap to run the lottery and ticket sale. The online system will be hosted by

Williams confirmed that the transit authority was not firing CapTech, the vendor it’s paying $500,000 a year to overhaul its normal e-commerce operations, despite the website crash last week.

When asked why the site crashed, Williams responded: “We did not anticipate the high demand.” While Ticketleap will handle the Regional Rail pass lottery, SEPTA will continue use CapTech’s e-commerce site to handle the sale of special transit passes for the Papal visit, which will also be available for purchase at SEPTA ticket windows. Those are $10, three-day transit passes valid from September 26th through September 28th for SEPTA’s subways, buses and trolleys.

Regular fare instruments and tokens will work on buses, trolleys and subways during the papal visit. Regional Rail riders, however, will need to have the Papal visit tickets. SEPTA will announce the sale of the subway, trolley and bus transit passes next week.

Williams said SEPTA was paying an additional $300,000 to Ticketleap and Amazon to run the lottery and ticket sale. SEPTA is charging a $1.95 service fee for each purchase to help cover service costs.

SEPTA will only run Regional Rail trains out of 18 outlying stations during the Papal visit, with service to 30th Street, Jefferson and University City stations. There will be no Suburban Station stops.

SEPTA also released an updated Regional Rail & Rail Transit map, which is below.

And what if you live far outside the city and don’t win the lottery? How will you get in then? There will almost undoubtedly be scalpers. 

And, of course, you can always pray to St. Jude: the patron saint of lost causes. 

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